ICR Reacts to the Bill Nye-Ken Ham Debate

The creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — have posted their impression of the big debate. The whole world has been waiting for this.

Their new article is Nye vs. Ham Debate: No True Scotsman. That title has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? You’ll soon see why. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A surprisingly large number of people — some three million — watched live online February 4 as debaters discussed the topic “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” Ken Ham took the affirmative position while “Science Guy” Bill Nye took the negative. During the debate, Nye’s use of a certain fallacy was soon evident, and viewers should beware of this tactic because of the subtle way it can skew perception.

What fallacy did Nye use? ICR informs us:

Each time Nye contrasted “Ken Ham’s creation model” of a young world with “us in the scientific community,” he committed the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We recently described that fallacy and wrote about ol’ Hambo’s use of it in Two Creationist Fallacies, where we said:

Ol’ Hambo constantly insists that he advocates true Christianity — which he says must be based on a literal wording of scripture — hence his strident young-Earth variety of creationism. In claiming that his version of Christianity is the only one, he’s committing the No true Scotsman fallacy … .

Now ICR is flipping the world upside-down and saying that it was Bill Nye who was being illogical. Their doing so, by the way, illustrates the tu quoque fallacy (that’s Latin for “you too”). One can see examples of it at any schoolyard: “I’m not a poop-head; you’re a poop-head!”

How did Nye commit the No true Scotsman fallacy? ICR first spends some time defining it, which is okay, and then they say:

The fact that Ham presented specific examples of fully credentialed scientists who adopted the Bible’s creation account of history had no effect on Nye, who continued to insist that scientists are evolutionists — by definition. The “Science Guy” insulated his assertion from scrutiny by defining “scientific” to suit his needs.

Yes, ol’ Hambo presented the “scientists” on his staff who have science degrees, but they don’t do any science — instead they spend their days serving Hambo’s mission to discredit the very science they once studied. So on paper they’re “fully credentialed scientists,” except for the fact that they don’t do science for Hambo, they oppose it. Let’s read on.

The common general definition of science includes observing, measuring, and interpreting natural processes.

That’s not quite it. According to the National Academy of Sciences, science is defined as: “The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.” Even using ICR’s watered-down definition (which omits the key requirements of testability and making predictions), we don’t see how divine creation fits in, because its involves supernatural processes. By anyone’s definition (except a creationist’s) all things supernatural are outside the domain of science. Anyway, ICR continues:

But Nye’s definition of true science seems to involve observing, measuring, and interpreting natural processes only according to evolutionary tenets.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! How could science, by either definition, possibly end up with a super-natural, non-observable, untestable explanation of anything? That’s why outfits like ICR have invented their own “creation science,” which they say describes scientifically impossible phenomena that occur in their alternate universe. Here’s more:

Nye was wrong to assume that no real scientist could ever hold the creation model, since scores of real scientists have and do. This is amply demonstrated in books like [references omitted]. And of course, early creation scientists forged the paths of each of today’s major scientific branches of inquiry, like Isaac Newton’s physics, Matthew Maury’s oceanography, Louis Pasteur’s immunology, Michael Faraday’s electromagnetism, and George Carver’s agriculture. Are we to believe that Newton and Pasteur were not real scientists?

That again! It’s been debunked thousands of times — see the section titled “Great scientists of old were creationists” in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Moving along:

Apparently, facts like these do not matter to someone who is so fully committed to the false idea that real scientists only believe in evolution that he is more than willing to adjust the very definition of scientist to preserve his argument.

Lordy, lordy. For the zillionth time, a creationist can function in the world — but he has to ignore his magical alternate reality to do so. In his lucid moments, he can change a light bulb, play the piano, and practice dentistry. He can build a creation museum and run a creationist website. He can also (somehow) plod through school and get a genuine science degree. He can even invent the MRI machine. But except for preaching, he can’t do squat with the concept of six day creation or a recent global Flood. No one can. No one ever has. No one ever will.

Here’s ICR’s final blast at Bill Nye:

Why would anyone even feel the need to protect their anti-creation definition of scientist with a “no true Scotsman” fallacy unless the evidence for recent creation that believing scientists are prepared to present constitutes a real threat?

They never stop, do they?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “ICR Reacts to the Bill Nye-Ken Ham Debate

  1. The piece was written by none other than Mister Brian Thomas, M.S., who is one of the dimmer stars in ICR’s constellation of creationist clowns.

  2. By anyone’s definition (except a creationist’s) all things supernatural are outside the domain of science.

    Well, sort of. The ‘things’ themselves may be classified as supernatural and unavailable to direct investigation, but the effects supposedly attached to these supernatural causal agencies fall squarely within the scientific purview (in spite of assurances from the National Academy of Science that the supernatural is exempt from scientific inquiry). For example, if prayer to a specific supernatural agency produced statistically significant outcomes, then we could adduce evidence for an explanation that argues for the existence of said agency. Likewise, if directed prayer produced the regrowing of amputated limbs or was immediately followed by cancer remission, then we could adduce evidence in support for that specific agency. There are untold numbers of ways evidence for supernatural agencies could be produced… evidence both present and absent in particular cases. So all of us should take exception to the NAS statement that instructs us to divide religious belief from scientific examination (usually supporting a NOMA-like assumption without merit) with a very healthy skepticism.

  3. ICR: “…the evidence for recent creation that believing scientists are prepared to present…”

    OK, ICR, you got a f’rinstance there? We are waiting with bated breath…

    …still waiting….

    (glances at watch) …ICR? Are you still on the line?

  4. The fact that Ham presented specific examples of fully credentialed scientists who adopted the Bible’s creation account of history had no effect on Nye…

    So what? Why, the dishonesty institute is always carting out their 700 or so signatories for Dissent from Darwin. Then lets trot out the preacher project and the Steve project.

    And how did they come by 3 million people watching this event?

  5. Stephen Kennedy

    A spontaneous remission of cancer would not be evidence for the supernatural because spontaneous remissions of cancers do not violate any natural laws. Concerning disease, people often fail to distinguish what is impossible from what is just highly improbable and want to call a very improbable, but possible, event a miracle. As a physician, I have experience with this phenomenon.

  6. Our Curmudgeon taunts

    I’m not a poop-head; you’re a poop-head!

    Only a true poop-head would make that allegation…

  7. Och aye. No true scot, and no member of the Royal Society Edinburgh either. Higgs Boson ICR.

  8. Richard Olson

    The ID/Creationist community seems to have adopted tu quoque as their principal defense strategy relatively recently. Not only is it present in communiques from national organizations & leaders, I see it more and more frequently in letters to the editor and internet comment sections by the lay sector. I wonder if the public who accept them as authority figures simply follow the example set by IDI, AiG & the like, or if this is an outcome of a coordinated coaching strategy.

    Growing numbers of free thinkers + the internet increases the volume of attacks focused on the Achilles heel of blind faith belief, the inability(impossibility) to produce evidence in support of fantastic claims. Creation adherents co-opt the terminology devastatingly employed against them, I think, hoping to actually impeach the credibility of the terminology itself. Persistently misusing terms, to an extent that renders them meaningless for their opponent’s case and against their own, may be a desperate gambit to maintain fidelity to scriptural dogma from those youths open to employing critical thinking, which polls indicate is a rapidly increasing percentage of that population.

  9. Anyone have to remind themselves that this isn’t satire, that they truly believe what they’re saying?

  10. “Anyone have to remind themselves that this isn’t satire, that they truly believe what they’re saying?”
    The rantings of the various creationists organizations are distinguishable from POEs only when fully in context. i.e. When reading one of their websites or books. If you remove the location information, they *are* POEs.

  11. The are probably a few true creationists who do science, along with a large number of mainstream Christians and people of other religious faiths. However, none of them do creation science. Even Ham’s in-house scientists could do real science if they chose to, they simply have to follow the normal scientific method in their work. If they can detect something supernatural using proven methods, maybe they’ll win a nobel prize.

    However, no true scientist starts with a predetermined belief, and proceeds to invent evidence and miraculous physical processes in order to rationalize that belief to known properties of nature. Certainly no true Scotsman does. And, to Nye’s point, we don’t want our children taught that method either.

  12. Waxing pedantic for a moment, I am obliged to point out that your schoolyard poop-head example is not an illustration of tu quoque: it’s a simple unsupported denial followed by an unsupported counter-allegation.

    In tu quoque, one does not deny the initial charge against oneself, but asserts that the accuser is also guilty of the same charge, to the same or even to a greater degree, e.g.

    Yes, Officer, I was doing 45 in a 35 mph zone–but you were doing 50 mph in order to catch me!

    I didn’t say it was an effective rhetorical device; it seeks to diminish the effect of charges that cannot be refuted by tainting the accuser with a whiff of hypocrisy.

    Your schoolyard example is incorrect: ergo, you are a poop-head.

    Quod erat demonstrandum…

  13. Megalonyx says: “Waxing pedantic for a moment …”

    What? You’re removing the hair from the soles of your feet?

  14. Good thing Megs wasn’t waxing nostalgic…

    What would he be without his memory?

  15. anevilmeme: “Anyone have to remind themselves that this isn’t satire, that they truly believe what they’re saying?”

    Not to defend them in the least, but that’s a false dichotomy. With the usual caveat that we can’t read minds, I think it’s a safe bet that it’s not satire. Everything they say and do screams a radical paranoid authoritarian worldview, so I don’t expect a “gotcha!” anytime soon. But does that mean that they truly believe what they’re saying. No. Some anti-evolution activists. possibly most, or even all of them, can be reasonably suspected of believing their particular literal Genesis story no more than a parent believing the fairy tale he/she tells a child.

    Even those who do personally believe what they peddle, don’t necessarily believe that the evidence supports it, but rather “take it on faith” in spite of no evidence (or no evidence yet). Ken Ham all but admitted that, and I personally knew a “YEC” like that.

    Unlike us “Darwinists,” or even evolution-deniers-on-the-street, anti-evolution activists are obsessed over what others must believe. Or in the case of IDers, what others must deny, specifically their “Darwinism” caricature. An IDer has no problem if you accept all of evolution as scientists define it, including old earth, old life, common descent, as long as you parrot their paranoid rant against mainstream science (the “Expelled” nonsense).

  16. Our Curmudgeon casts aspersions:

    You’re removing the hair from the soles of your feet?

    I ain’t no kin to Hobbits, er, Homo floresiensis

  17. Item in the Seattle Times today:


    I wonder if the dishonesty institute will respond.

  18. “Their doing so”
    Totally yes. If you want to learn how to combine several logical fallacies creationists are the ones to study.

    “For the zillionth time”
    And here we have another one. Creacrappers are fond of the Argumentum ad Nauseam – repeating Pailey’s Watchmaker Analogy over and over and over and over ……. again.

    @RO: “The ID/Creationist community seems to have adopted tu quoque as their principal defense strategy relatively recently”
    Which options are left for them? It’s not exactly that they produce tons of relevant empirical data. “Evolution is faith-based hence my faith is equally valid” at least sounds remotely plausible.

    @Mega: “I ain’t no kin to Homo floresiensis…”
    Aha! Caught you! According to Evolution Theory you and Homo Floresiensis have common ancestors, so you are supposed to be kin. Unless you’re a creationist! See? Deep in their darkened hearts all Evilutionists believe in Creation!

  19. I hope this comment isn’t too long, but I just found a wonderful response to the “biased against supernaturalism” claim that creationists often make (I also note in passing that they frequently conflate—probably intentionally—metaphysical naturalism with methodological naturalism). It’s from chapter 6 of Ken Daniels’ book Why I Believed.

    After quoting Martin Luther at length on how disease is caused by demons, not by natural causes, Daniels writes: “History is full of such interpretations of God’s activity in the world. Some modern Christians may think their predecessors’ views curious, yet they still fail to learn the lesson of the priority that empiricism enjoys over metaphysical speculation…History, then, teaches us to avoid any temptation to appeal to divine explanations for unknown phenomena, whether it be the naturalistic origin of the bacterial flagellum, of the first living creature, or of the universe itself.

    I have often heard supernaturalists accuse naturalists of “bias against the supernatural.” While we certainly do avoid appeals to magic, this stance is rooted in the stunning success of empirically based science; it is no more biased than following what works in any other domain. If stopping at a red traffic light reflects a bias against running red lights, then yes, avoiding the miraculous in science reflects a bias against the supernatural.

    The practical track record of naturalistic science is available for all to evaluate, while supernatural science comes up empty handed. Indeed, the enterprise of science is to turn unknowns into knowns, while the business of supernaturalism is to make pronouncements concerning what cannot be known and which therefore requires magic. In other words, it is not unfair to accuse supernaturalists of “bias against the natural.”